Creativity, collaboration and ingenuity are unique strengths the West of England will build on to secure clean growth to benefit all residents through a new economic blueprint published this month.
That’s the aim set out in the region’s first-ever Local Industrial Strategy, developed by the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, working with regional businesses and organisations, as well as central government.
The Strategy sets out how the area will contribute towards delivering the national Industrial Strategy’s aim to raise productivity levels and create high-quality, well-paid jobs across the country.
Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said: “From robots to animation through to aerospace, the West of England has a strong, diverse and increasingly green economy.
“This Local Industrial Strategy ensures the innovation, skills and creativity of every place in the West of England are harnessed, benefiting everyone working and living in the area.”
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “From the days of Brunel, through to the latest developments in robotics and virtual reality, the West of England has been at the cutting edge of technology.
“Across our towns and cities, there is an independence of spirit and pride in the diversity, creativity and ingenuity of communities. Our Local Industrial Strategy sets out how we will work together to build on those strengths.
“As the world changes around us, we need this plan to make sure we stay ahead of the curve, creating a stronger economy and a better place to live and work for all.”
Professor Steve West, Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our region is a place where ideas flourish and businesses grow, where creative, digital and high tech meet traditional industry.
“The Local Industrial Strategy is important to everybody. It’s about the way we live, the way we work, the environment we live in, the way we socialise, and how those things come together to create an environment that allows people to prosper.”
Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, MP said: “I welcome the launch of the first Local Industrial Strategy in the West of England which will support a wide range of pioneering, innovative projects from the creation of bionic limbs to exploring green technology and constructing environmentally friendly homes.
“Meeting the priorities outlined in this strategy will enable businesses to adapt to new technology, create well-paid jobs and equip people with the skills they need to thrive in the global digital economy.”
The West of England Local Industrial Strategy also identifies the challenges that need to be addressed to realise the area’s full potential, including improving small firm productivity, ensuring the workforce has the skills needed and the delivery of clean, inclusive growth of the region.
It sets out how the area will bring its world-leading sectors together to promote cross-sectoral collaboration to address national and international challenges.
This includes looking at developing a smart region which is more in tune with the needs of its residents, one that uses the region’s digital expertise to improve connectivity, and that can provide homes that house the ageing population for longer while being built more cheaply, quickly and more energy efficiently.
It will also ensure people have the skills that businesses need to support the region’s ambitions, while also making sure people in the West of England have access to opportunities, both of which will help deliver the national Industrial Strategy’s aim to raise productivity levels and create high-quality, well-paid jobs.
The strategy highlights some of the great work already underway in the region, and looks at how this can be developed in future. Projects that demonstrate this best practice include:
A prime example of innovation in healthcare technology, Stoke Gifford-based Open Bionics combines advanced robotics with Disney designs from the Star Wars, Marvel and Frozen universes to deliver the Hero Arm – affordable, assistive devices that enhance the human body and turn children with limb differences into bionic heroes. The hi-tech firm has created the world’s first medically certified 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics.
Knowle West Media Centre
The centre supports people from a range of backgrounds to come together and create new ideas, tools and technologies to help improve quality of life for all. As the Bristol Living Lab they offer a real-life test and experimentation environment to co-design innovative products, approaches and services, which could be taken to market. Residents, artists, technologists, businesses and public sector organisations can come together to address local challenges, innovate and explore new possibilities.
To ensure continued success for the region, four key priorities are identified in the strategy:
Strengthening innovation and driving productivity by:
- Connecting researchers, businesses and residents through a Global Centre of Innovation Excellence to focus the region’s innovative strengths on globally and nationally significant challenges.
- Developing, testing and preparing for market new products and services through a new West of England Network of Living Labs.
Supporting all residents to contribute to and benefit from economic success by:
- Targeting support to communities facing challenges.
- Tailoring employment and skills support so that businesses can find the talent they need.
- Linking everyone to jobs, training and services through better physical and digital infrastructure, that is accessible, sustainable and low carbon.
Providing businesses with the space, networks and skills they need to boost productivity, grow and thrive by:
- Encouraging uptake of modern technology, management and leadership practices to lift employee wellbeing, productivity and exports.
- Including more regional providers in businesses’ supply chains and widening access to public procurement for small businesses.
- Supporting and incentivising companies towards low carbon business models.
Investing in infrastructure that reduces energy demand, lowers carbon emissions and is resilient to the impacts of climate change.
- Supporting businesses to adopt new clean technology and energy efficiency measures.
- Building new carbon-neutral homes, using modern methods of construction and other housing innovations.
Local Industrial Strategies represent the response of places across the country to how they will deliver for the national Industrial Strategy.
The government’s modern Industrial Strategy is the flagship economic policy which backs businesses to create high-quality, well-paid jobs throughout the United Kingdom, and invests in skills, innovation and infrastructure.
Copies of the full West of England Local Industrial Strategy and the summary document are available via: www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/ourstrategy.